Best Folk Rock Artists

Folk rock originates from... you guessed it, folk music. Folk rock hit the mainstream thanks to The Animals 1964 hit "House of the Rising Sun," a song that dates back to the late 19th century. Their success was followed by some of the best remembered artists in the genre including Bob Dylan.

The Top Ten

1 Bob Dylan Bob Dylan Bob Dylan is an American singer-songwriter, author, and artist who has been an influential figure in popular music and culture for more than five decades.

Knockin on heaven's door, all along the watchtower, Chimes of freedom. Bob Dylan was more than a folk rock artist. His music influenced so many significant artists, that some people don't even know that it was originally his music. Bob Dylan is a genius.

I love Bob Dylan, but it is obvious that people voting on this list don't have a clue about Folk Music. Where is John Prine? This list is insulting to anyone who has a clue what they are talking about. He should be number 2, but to not even have him on the list makes this list totally invalid.

Not that you'll ever see this, but John Prine isn't generally regarded as a folk-rock artist. However, you or others could add him to this list and see if the moderators allow his inclusion - Billyv

Each of his song bears depth in lyrics with simple but beautiful tune. His songs can swing your mood better than anything. Such beauty, such composure! The best folk rock artist ever born!

Bob Dylan = Folk Music like Bob Marley = Reggae Music. Nobody epitomizes Folk more than Dylan.

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2 Neil Young Neil Young Neil Percival Young is a Canadian singer-songwriter and musician, producer, director and screenwriter.

Neil young is brilliant. He is one of the only musicians which capture the real essence of emotion in his song. You can connect heart of gold with loss and are you ready for the country with hope. He is also quite funny too. One of the truly great folk artist. He and big Dylan are #1 for me because I can't choose which is better.

I've been listening to this guy all my life and he still amazes me. He's the reason I learned to play guitar and harmonica. He was the reason buffalo Springfield was so cool. Cheers

Neil Young is the reason I started to sing and play harmonica when I play guitar. There are some great artists on this list, but I truly believe that Neil rises above all. Some of his songs can be used to define Folk/Folk Rock. The song writing he has done is legendary.

Hey, Hey, My, My
Rock and roll can never die!

Discovered Neil Young in 1970, I was 11 years old. And I'm 58 now and I'm still listening and loving his music. He is all about the music and he makes you feel it. A true musician who never sold out. The Best.

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3 Simon & Garfunkel

Go on YouTube and search the song "Bridge Over Troubled Waters". It is a song filled with beauty and wonder. Paul Simon was one of the greatest song writers and Art Garfunkel has such an amazing voice.

I can't believe Mumford and Sons are in the number 2 spot, I don think they reach the standards of artists such as: Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Neil Young etc.

This band does not have a bad song. Paul Simon is an amazing songwriter, writing every song they made. "The Sounds of Silence" is a deep song with amazing lyrics. "Bridge Over Troubled Water" is such an inspirational song. Don't forget "Homeward Bound", "Cecelia", "Scarborough Fair", and "Mrs. Robinson". There is something for everyone

Folk geniuses who inter grated pop stylings to be appealing as well as brilliant

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4 Nick Drake Nick Drake Nicholas Rodney "Nick" Drake (19 June 1948 – 25 November 1974) was an English singer-songwriter and musician, known for his acoustic guitar-based songs. A singular talent who passed almost unnoticed during his brief lifetime, his work has posthumously achieved wider notice and recognition.

It's sad because not many people know the story behind his sad soul so I will. Nick drake was not a Syd Barrett or Keith moon. He was known to take drugs but that's not what killed him. What killed him was the same mental disorder these 3 musicians all had: bipolar disorder. He gecame so depressed it was the death of him. Such a sad soul with so little time on the limelight.

A poor talented soul who deserved much more during his lifetime.

Such a beautiful voice. Could listen to him all day.

A genius. Period.

5 Mumford and Sons Mumford and Sons Mumford & Sons are a British rock band from London, formed in 2007. The band consists of Marcus Mumford, Ben Lovett, Winston Marshall and Ted Dwane.

They are the best in current scenario. Because, they learnt from Bob Dylan. Their 2nd album "Babel" won the Album of the year award at prestigious 2013 Grammy awards. - ankittayal1

Mumford and Sons are excellent and I could listen to them all day, but number two? What about Cat Stevens, Neil Young etc?

Mumford and sons are amazing. They're going to have so many more Grammy winning albums in their future

In a time of nonsense music they keep it real. Great band.

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6 The Byrds The Byrds The Byrds were an American rock band, formed in Los Angeles, California in 1964. The band underwent multiple line-up changes throughout its existence, with frontman Roger McGuinn remaining the sole consistent member, until the group disbanded in 1973. Although they only managed to attain the huge commercial more.

Byrds not only mixed successfully Dylan with Beatles, their best work goes beyond that, a mix of psychedelia, jazz, great pop melodies and harmonies is what shapes their best, "Younger Than Yesterday" is the proof, it shows their talent, McGuinn's 12 string sounding like the combination of a Harpsichord and a Banjo marks their distinctive sounds.

They invented the genre "Folk Rock".

The invented "Folk Rock."

The Byrds invented folk rock ( Also psychedelic rock and country rock). They made Dylan popular and accesible to mass audience. They influenced (particularly the chiming guitar of Roger Mcguinn) countless bands - TPHB, REM, The Smiths and many others

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7 Leonard Cohen Leonard Cohen Leonard Norman Cohen was a Canadian singer-songwriter, poet and novelist. His work explored religion, politics, isolation, sexuality and personal relationships. Cohen died on November 7, 2016 at the age of 82.

Leonard Cohen below Mumford And Sons? Piss off

Leonard was nothing short of incredible, amazing, and wonderful. He was a special man who will be missed and continued to be loved by his true fans!

Seriously! Piss off! Leonard Cohen is THE MAN.

Leonard Cohen deserves to be at the top of this list! he might have changed his style a bit in his later albums but his folk rock songs are the best ever! his lyrics, his voice, his music and the connection between them was just amazing!

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8 Joni Mitchell Joni Mitchell Roberta Joan Mitchell, professionally known as Joni Mitchell, is a Canadian singer-songwriter. Drawing from folk, pop, rock, and jazz, Mitchell's songs often reflect social and environmental ideals as well as her feelings about romance, confusion, disillusionment, and joy.

The album Blue is one of the best albums of all time regardless of genre. The songwriting is superb. Joni is right up there with bob and Neil as well as James and Carole!

Poetry and great melodies. Songwriters, songwriter. God bless you for all those great albums. If you can only listen to one album to understand Joni Mitchell listen to Travelogue.

Brilliant. Should be in the top 3.

Best artist

9 The Band The Band The Band was a Canadian-American roots rock group formed in 1965 . Which originally consisting of Rick Danko (bass guitar, double bass, fiddle, vocals), Levon Helm (drums, mandolin, guitar, vocals), Garth Hudson (keyboards, saxophones, trumpet), Richard Manuel (piano, drums, vocals) and Robbie Robertson more.

Take a load off Annie and you put the load right on me

10 Cat Stevens Cat Stevens Yusuf Islam, commonly known by his former stage name Cat Stevens, is a British singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, humanitarian, and education philanthropist.

Where is Cat? He is always forgotten because he converted to Islam and changed his name, but back in his reign, during the 70's, he wrote some of the greatest songs of all time including Peace Train, Wild World, Foreigner Suite, Moonshadow, and many more.

Absolutely. Creativity abounds from this man. If only that incident in the ocean never happened who knows how many more great Stevens albums we would have had. I just discovered him at the age of 31 his year and could only wish I knew of him earlier and before is 2016 tour so I could have gone to see him live.

This is Cat Stevens territory, this category. Move him up!

This is the ultimate "driving through the mountains" music

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The Contenders

11 Crosby, Stills, and Nash

The best harmony band ever. All know about Young but Stills was very good on guitar particularly the acoustic in addition to being very good song writer and a great vocalist. Crosby and Nash blended in with perfect harmonies while often contributing some brilliant songs. However most of their later albums were disappointing

Some of the greatest harmonies ever. Crosby from the Byrds, Stills from Buffalo Springfield (and later Neil Young), and Graham Nash from the Hollies. Suite:Judy Blue Eyes, written for Judy Collins, is particularly amazing.

I love Crosby, Stills, and Nash so much. My four teddy bears named Violet, Bluebell, Rose, and Lily love them.

Should be in 2nd behind S&G

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12 The Animals The Animals The Animals were an English band of the 1960s, formed in Newcastle upon Tyne, during the early part of the decade.

The Animals were everything. They could play blues, rock, folk, anything. They certainly deserve a higher spot.

I don't consider the animals folk, however, they are fantastic

Not necessarily folk, but truly a great band.

13 The Mamas & the Papas The Mamas & the Papas The Mamas & the Papas were an American folk rock vocal group that recorded and performed from 1965 to 1968, reuniting briefly in 1971. The group was a defining force in the music scene of the Counterculture of the 1960s.

I've always found John Phillips annoying because of his stupid hat, his stupid hair, his stupid moustache, and his stupid beard.

I've always found Denny Doherty annoying because of his stupid hair, his stupid moustache, and his stupid beard.

I've always found Michelle Phillips annoying because of her stupid hair, her stupid lips, and her stupid pouty face.

I've always found Cass Elliot annoying because of her stupid hair, her stupid hooked nose, her stupid ugly fat face, and she was too fat and too round.

The members should have been John Phillips, Denny Doherty, Michelle Phillips, and Jill Gibson. Then I would have liked the band more if Cass Elliot was dropped from the group because of her stupid size, her stupid hair, her stupid hooked nose, and her creepy voice.

If any member had to be kicked out of the band, it would be Cass Elliot because she was too FAT and too ROUND.

Here are the reasons why I’ve always found The Mamas and the Papas annoying:

1. They had horrible songs
2. They had terrible harmonizing
3. They got inducted into the Rock and Roll 🎸 Hall of Fame
4. They had a fat female member
5. John Phillips had stupid hair, a stupid moustache, a stupid beard �", and he wore stupid hats 🧢
6. Denny Doherty had stupid hair, a stupid moustache, and a stupid beard �"
7. Michelle Phillips had stupid hair, stupid pouty lips 👄, and stupid angry 😠 eyebrows
8. Cass Elliot was too fat and too round when she was with the Mamas and the Papas
9. Cass Elliot had stupid hair, a stupid hooked nose 👃, and a horrible voice
10. The Mamas and the Papas tried to be better than Peter, Paul and Mary but they’re not

Here are the reasons why The Mamas and the Papas might not be annoying:

1. They’re all dead
2. They would have been better off without Cass Elliot
3. Peter, Paul and Mary ...more

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14 The Dream Academy
15 James Taylor James Taylor James Vernon Taylor is an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. A five-time Grammy Award winner, he was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000. He is one of the best-selling artists of all time, and he has sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

Is Fire and Rain the best song ever written? If not there aren't many above it.

His version of "Steam Roller" is brill and shocking fantastic

James grew up in Chapel Hill, NC and was blessed to be part of a very musical family to include his father who was Dean of the Medical School at UNC. Obviously, he became the most celebrated musical member of the family and is so deserving to be on this list and I dare say in the top 5!

There are things about this list that do look a little screwy. The Animals were terrific, but they're not folk rock, and they're in the top ten? Mumford &Sons are good, but not second best. This seems like it is a relatively new list, so it should straighten itself out, hopefully. Meanwhile, J. T. Is incredible, and should be top five.

16 The Lumineers

Name ten contemporary folk albums that you can listen to straight through without skipping a track. Both Lumineers albums will be in that top ten. Simply amazing attention to detail. Check out the KEXP live sessions from them. Amazing artists. Amazingly rugged. Amazingly simple. Amazing.

The songs and lyrics have a meaning! Music with great lyrics, is great music

Everyone of their songs are incredible. I would definitely switch them out with Mumford and sons

The Lumineers and Mumford and sons are the new generation and ROCKS

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17 Gordon Lightfoot Gordon Lightfoot Gordon Meredith Lightfoot Jr. is a Canadian singer-songwriter who achieved international success in folk, folk-rock, and country music. He is credited with helping to define the folk-pop sound of the 1960s and 1970s.

Absolutely. Move this man WAY up! So underrated, not just his singles, but album cuts like Beautiful, For Lovin' Me, Daylight Katy, does great covers too (Me and Bobby McGee, Last Thing on My Mind). Great singer and songwriter.

"The Edmund Fitzgerald" It's in my head and I can't get it out! This great singer songwriter is pure Folk Rock. He should be at least in the top 5 in this line-up.

One of the originators of the genre, certainly worth the top ten.

This guy wrote 12 to 15 songs I would call flat-out classics and many other merely good ones. Sadly neglected today. - bill1130

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18 Syd Barrett Syd Barrett Roger Keith Barrett was an English musician, composer, singer, songwriter, and painter. Best known as a founder member of the band Pink Floyd, Barrett was the lead singer, guitarist and principal songwriter in its early years and is credited with naming the band.

I would have voted for Neil Young but then I saw Syd. This man is really the definition of "mad genius". He was quite insane, and took way to many drugs, but he was still able to craft musical masterpieces, including Pink Floyds first album "Piper at the Gates of Dawn". - Doom

A true genius, constructed music so well and lyrics were just majestic, a real individual, they'll never be anyone like him again.

Very good folk and psychedelic rock musician with one of the saddest history in the music business.

Key songs:
Baby lemonade
Dark globe

After he was with Pink Floyd he started folk. You can tell the folk rock in him from songs like the gnome and bike. Great folk music. Great musicianx

19 Jeff Buckley Jeff Buckley Jeffrey Scott "Jeff" Buckley (November 17, 1966 – May 29, 1997) raised as Scott "Scottie" Moorhead, was an American singer-songwriter and guitarist. more.

Beautiful, poetic lyrics, beautiful and accomplished vocals, great guitar, great chords etc etc

Grace. What more could you want?

Rest in Peace Jeff Buckley!

My everything. Period.

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20 Jim Croce Jim Croce James Joseph Croce was an American folk and rock singer-songwriter. Between 1966 and 1973, Croce released five studio albums and singles. His songs "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown" and "Time in a Bottle" reached No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
21 Of Monsters and Men Of Monsters and Men Of Monsters and Men is a five-member, English-language, indie folk-pop band from Reykjavík, Iceland, formed in 2010.

These guys are the best I've seen them live an they are great they should be on the top 5

The Best Folk Rock Band Ever. I've never seen anyone sing like them.

I could listen to every song on their albums for hours

I just can't stop listening to their music, it invokes my very being.
When I listen to "Little Talks", "Dirty Paws", "King and Lionheart", "Mountain Sound", I am the most alive. I treasure everything a bit more after I have listened to their songs. Give them a try, you will not regret it.

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22 Van Morrison Van Morrison Sir George Ivan Morrison OBE is a Northern Irish singer, songwriter, instrumentalist and record producer. In 2016, he was knighted for services to the music industry and to tourism in Northern Ireland.

Great artist, his music to me is kind of a mixture of jazz, rock, and folk. Unbelievable songwriter, and been around a long time.

No! Why isn't Van Morrison in the top ten? Sacrilege!

23 Peter Paul and Mary

I realize their heyday was fifty years ago, still they should be top ten.

Agreed, this trio IS folk music...

Should be in the Top 10. This list is all wrong!

Peter Paul and Mary are way way better than the Mamas and the Papas

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24 The Avett Brothers

They have a song for every feeling and scenario you can have

Unrivaled. I'm in awe at the size and depth of their catalog.

Should be higher up

Great performances even ten easy

25 Jethro Tull Jethro Tull Jethro Tull were a British rock group, formed in Luton, Bedfordshire, in December 1967. Initially playing blues rock, the band soon developed its sound to incorporate elements of British folk music and hard rock to forge a progressive rock signature.

Should be number one since they brought the rock aspect a little more than the others. CSN was more easy rock, but I'll take them all in any order. Fabulous talented band, unlike others mentioned.

Big fan of Ian Anderson. One of the best bands of the seventies.

That's actually folk not only guitar

Hey Aqualung!

26 Richard Thompson

It's a crime Thompson is rated so low. He's the most influential figure in British folk-rock. He should be in the top 10.

The best there is.

27 Blackmore's Night

Blackmore's Night can take you to the time and place where dragons exist, there built the castle with knights and princesses, when love is in every breath and the roses shine like thousand hearts.

Truly amazing atmosphere in their music and consistent quality throughout. One the most inspired bands ever really.

I love Blackmores night and no other folk rock! They have Richie blackmore for one thing! It needs to be number one! Best folk rock band of all time.

I cannot listen to enough of Blackmore Night's music. They are soothing, rich sounds of vocals and instruments. I love them. There is not one of their songs that is not fantastic. I have all of their CDs! My favourite Folk Rock Group ~ They are certainly unique!

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28 Fleet Foxes Fleet Foxes
29 Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin Led Zeppelin were an English rock band formed in London in 1968. The group consisted of Robert Plant (Vocal), Jimmy Page (Guitar), John Paul Jones (Bass, Keyboard) and John Bonham (Drums). The band's heavy, guitar-driven sound, rooted in blues and psychedelia on their early albums, has earned them recognition more.

Robert Plant and John Paul Jones have both done a lot of folk and bluegrass since Zeppelin. Plant, in particular, made the incredible album Raising Sand with Alison Krauss...

I don't think Led Zeppelin should be on this list. They may have a few songs that are a little folky but they are predominantly rock.

Stairway to heaven, the battle of evermore, going to California,... are folk rock songs afterall

30 Fairport Convention

Come on guys - Fairport's Liege and Lief invented the genre. No one surpasses Sandy Denny, and Richard Thompson was and indeed still is one of the world's greatest songwriters and guitarists.

Just listen to their albums Time, Hark the village wait or sails of silver

Yes, they should be top 20 at least.

Liege & Lief brilliant album, Unhalbricking not far behind. Sandy Denny alone was superb but with fairport and RT behind her it could be argued that this was her best work. I often wonder what she would have gone on to produce had she not been sadly taken from us. She is sadly missed

31 America

Look up sister golden hair and a horse with no name its one of my all time favorite bands.

My favorite band, there's lot of bands that the one can remember them with one song or two, but America! GOD!

I can't search this site for top tens for this band

My favorite band ever!

32 Passenger Passenger Michael David Rosenberg, better known by his stage name Passenger, is an English singer-songwriter and musician.

The greatest by a mile and I mean that I'm not just trying to wind people up, the only artist I've ever heard who makes songs which you can't lyrically figure out for years and then suddenly it hits you I promise if you commit to listening to him you will be rewarded with a lifetime of great music

Very lovely music, specifically lyrics, Michael David Rosenberg with little weird voice. but I was very touched by let her go, life's for the living, patient love, walk in the rain, scare away the dark, circles.

The whole All the little lights album moved me very much. That's why I was scrolling down this list. But to no avail. Passenger couldn't be found. So I added him. Cheers!

He is genuinely the best one!

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33 Richie Havens

Watch his three hour performance at Woodstock. You'll see why he is one of the greatest folk-rock artists of all time.

He can rich, meaningful, soulful with such a smoky depth. Love his music, and there is so much of it that people don't know!

like 'i'm)

34 Buffalo Springfield Buffalo Springfield Buffalo Springfield was an American-Canadian rock band, formed in Los Angeles in 1966. Their original lineup included Stephen Stills, Dewey Martin, Bruce Palmer, Richie Furay, and Neil Young. V 2 Comments
35 Bruce Springsteen + E Street

More rock and roll than folk

36 Eluveitie Eluveitie
37 Sons of the East

Brilliant songs with a light hearted feel that carries a strong message. River man is my personal fave.

38 The Head and the Heart

I'm devastated that Head and the Heart is not further up on this list. It ruins this entire site for me. Don't listen to the numbers, listen to the music! I can recite every head and the heart song by heart, and It's the only band where after being able to do that I still love them.

The head and the heart is the best folk band on the planet. Their music is beautiful while being relatable; it is instrumentally pleasing while the lyrics are perfect. The best sound ever to enter my ears.

I feel it

39 Iron & Wine
40 Lindisfarne

Nice proper folk music.

Should be much higher on this list, at least 30 of the bands currently above them pale in comparison. Their first two albums "Nicely Out Of Tune" and "Fog On The Tyne" were landmark albums, their second being the biggest selling album in the U.K. In 1972. Alan Hull was a great songwriter and the bass player wasn't far behind. Jacka had a great blues voice and Simon Cowe was a gifted musician, all in all a perfect folk rock band.

41 Jack Johnson Jack Johnson Jack Hody Johnson is an American singer-songwriter, musician, actor, record producer, documentary filmmaker and former professional surfer.
42 Elliott Smith Elliott Smith

Should be higher on the list. What is wrong with you people?!

One of the most talented singer-songwriters to ever live.

This guy was just really talanted... His song writing was great

43 Bon Iver Bon Iver Bon Iver is an American indie folk band founded in 2006 by singer-songwriter Justin Vernon. The name "Bon Iver" derives from the French phrase bon hiver, taken from a greeting on Northern Exposure.

This guy MUST be higher on the list! His Self Titled Album is the pure definition of BEAUTIFUL and surprisingly NOSTALGIC!

How is this guy so low?

44 Phillip Phillips Phillip Phillips Phillip LaDon Phillips Jr. is an American singer, songwriter and musician who won the eleventh season of American Idol on May 23, 2012. His coronation song, "Home," released after his win, became the best selling of all coronation songs.

Unique style with beautiful lyrics

45 Pentangle

Folk heavily tinged with Jazz and baroque - Superb!

46 Dawes

Unique with stories in each song.

47 Tom Waits Tom Waits Thomas Alan "Tom" Waits, born December 7, 1949 is an American singer-songwriter, composer, and actor. more.
48 Beck Beck Beck Hansen, known by stage name Beck, is an American singer, songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist. He is mostly known for his musical composition, as well as a palette of sonic genres. V 1 Comment
49 The Beatles The Beatles The Beatles were an English rock band formed in Liverpool in 1960. The members consisted of John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They were soon known as the foremost and most influential act of rock era. Rooted in skiffle, beat, and 1950s rock and roll, the Beatles later experimented more.
50 Dirk Hamilton
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List Stats

1,000 votes
88 listings
6 years, 122 days old

Top Remixes (4)

1. Bob Dylan
2. Neil Young
3. Simon & Garfunkel
1. Nick Drake
2. Bob Dylan
3. Joni Mitchell
1. Bob Dylan
2. The Animals
3. The Byrds

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